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Design for Parallel Reactions

Dr. Jigisha Parikh ChED, ChED, SVNIT

Introduction to Multiple Reactions

Single reactions

the performance (size) of a reactor was influenced by the pattern of flow within the vessel.

Multiple reactions both

the size requirement and the distribution of reaction products affected by the pattern of flow within the vessel.


The distinction between a single reaction and multiple reactions is

the single reaction requires only one rate expression to describe its kinetic behavior multiple reactions require more than one rate expression.


Two distinct analyses, one

for determination of reactor size and the other for the study of product distribution.

Qualitative Discussion About Product Distribution

Consider the decomposition of A by either one of two paths:


Now CA is the only factor in this equation which we can adjust and control (k1, k2, a1, and a2, are all constant for a specific system at a given temperature) and we can keep CA, low throughout the reactor by any of the following means:

by using a mixed flow reactor, maintaining high conversions, increasing inerts in the feed, or decreasing the pressure in gas-phase gas-


On the other hand, we can keep CA high by using

a batch or plug flow reactor, maintaining low conversions, removing inerts from the feed, or increasing the pressure in gas- phase systems. gas-

For the reactions of Eq. 1 let us see whether the concentration of A should be kept high or low. If a1 > a2, or the desired reaction is of higher order than the unwanted reaction,

Eq. 3 shows that a high reactant concentration is desirable since it increases the R/S ratio. As a result, a batch or plug flow reactor would favor formation of product R and would require a minimum reactor size.

If a1 < a2, or the desired reaction is of lower order than the unwanted reaction,

we need a low reactant concentration to favor formation of R. But this would also require large mixed flow reactor.

If a1 = a2, or the two reactions are of the same order, Eq. 3 becomes
Hence, product distribution is fixed by k2/k1 alone and is unaffected by type of reactor used.


We also may control product distribution by varying k2/k1. This can be done in two ways: By changing the temperature level of operation. If the activation energies of the two reactions are different, k1/k2 can be made to vary. By using a catalyst. One of the most important features of a catalyst is its selectivity in depressing or accelerating specific reactions. This may be a much more effective way of controlling product distribution than any of the methods discussed so far.




For reactions in parallel,

the concentration level of reactants is the key to proper control of product distribution.

A high reactant concentration favors the reaction of higher order, A low concentration favors the reaction of lower order, while the concentration level has no effect on the product distribution for reactions of the same order.



Quantitative Treatment of Product Distribution and of Reactor Size

If rate equations are known for the individual reactions, we can quantitatively determine product distribution and reactor-size requirements. reactorTwo terms, and . First, consider the decomposition of reactant A, and let be the fraction of A disappearing at any instant which is transformed into desired product R. - The instantaneous fractional yield of R. Thus at any CA

For any particular set of reactions and rate equations is a function of CA, and since CA in general varies through the reactor, will also change with position in the reactor. is the fraction of all the reacted A that has been converted into R, and is the overall fractional yield of R. The overall fractional yield is then the mean of the instantaneous fractional yields at all points within the reactor; thus we may write


The overall fractional yield represents the product distribution at the reactor outlet. Now the proper averaging for within the reactor. depends on the type of flow

Thus for plug flow, where CA changes progressively through the reactor, we have from Eq. 7: